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Stand Out From the Crowd

Posted on October 19, 2007

Husseini K. Manji (bio) encourages early researchers to be prepared for opportunities.

 

I think one of the pieces of advice I might give some junior investigators at, you know, whatever their area is, is that somehow you’ve got to stand out from the crowd at any given point. So there are opportunities which sometimes come along that aren’t necessarily things you’re aiming towards, but suddenly there’s a possibility of an opening on a panel or an advisory board or writing a manuscript with somebody, and you’ve got to be the person that’s logically picked.

And once you’re picked for that one, that opens doors for the next step, and so on, and so it’s these incremental advances. But I don’t know any other way to say it other than you’ve constantly got to be prepared so that when that opportunity happens to come along, you are the obvious candidate that gets picked, and that leads, one step leads to another, etc. And I think that’s one of the things that I tell my post-doctoral trainees, that it’s not simply gearing it towards this tangible goal, but always being, you know, above the crowd, and that opens doors for you, etc.

In terms of, you know, ways one can stand out, I would say clearly one needs certain characteristics: intellect, drive, dedication, etc. But probably at this stage, I mean, if we’re talking about people at the assistant professor level at universities or in fellowship training, etc., probably most people have that coming in. I think showing the willingness to go above and beyond, taking the initiative to think about projects, designing them, talking to your mentor about it, willingness to, you know, go above and beyond simply the routine is one of the things that, I think, allows one to stand out.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2006 Career Development Institute for Bipolar Disorder in Boca Raton, FL.

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